Nebraska Athletic Commission Sanctions Bout Involving Pre Operative Transgender MMA Fighter

Update – October 27, 2015 – Brian Dunn of the Nebraska State Athletic Commission replied to my inquiry about the regulatory framework of this bout as follows –

Hi Erik,

This bout was overseen by the Nebraska Athletic Commission.  We do not have any specific policy, but each bout is evaluated individually.  We considered this contestant to be male for the purposes of competition

and further as to whether the transgender competitor had undergone breast augmentation or hormone treatment –

I do not have that information.  Mr. Russell asked for a variance regarding the top.  At first, I denied the request.  He still attended the weigh in (he did not remove his shirt) and intended to compete.  He acted serious about the competition, and not using his “transgender” status for attention-seeking, so the day of the event, I approved his request for the variance to wear the top.


In what, to my knowledge, is a first in the MMA legal landscape, last week the Nebraska Athletic Commission sanctioned an MMA bout involving a pre operative transgender fighter.  The bout occurred on October 23 at OFC 108 in Omaha, Nebraska.  The fight promoter, Omaha Fight Club, confirmed to me that “yes this happened” and further that

“Jason (Michelle) Russell is the fighter The commission didn’t have a problem with the fight being regulated due to it being two born male fighters both with genitals attached, as far as the choosing of fight attire it is the fighters preference since he is living as a female. Jason (Michelle) doesn’t want to fight females he just wants to be one. He admits he didn’t take the fight serious and needs to get back into a gym if he wants to continue fighting!”

The bout was uploaded to YouTube and can be found here –

The athlete was apparently pre-operative but appears to have had breast augmentation (I make this assumption based on the top being worn) although I cannot confirm if this assumption is accurate.  I have reached out to the Nebraska Athletic Commission asking if they have any specific rules or regulations in place regarding such bouts.  I will update this article if/when they reply.

In 2013 the ABC’s Medical Committee released their position paper on suggested transgender policies for combative sports which can be found here .


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